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Fifth shark attack in two weeks off Long Island leaves man injured

John Peabody/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — The fifth shark attack in two weeks off Long Island was reported Wednesday evening.

A 49-year-old man from Arizona was bitten by a shark shortly after 6 p.m. at Seaview Beach, Suffolk police said.

The man “was standing in waist-deep water when a shark came up from behind and bit him on the left wrist and buttocks,” police said in a statement.

The victim was able to walk out of the water and was transported via a Suffolk County Police helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

The attack comes nearly 12 hours after a surfer was bitten by a shark around 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday near Smith Point Beach, according to Suffolk County officials.

Officials believe the attack was by a tiger shark, which left behind a 4-inch gash on the surfer’s leg.

After being knocked off his paddle board, officials said that the surfer “took a punch” at the shark, which seemed to be coming back for another bite.

Luckily, officials said, a wave carried the surfer and his board back to shore before any further damage was done.

A park ranger helped the surfer once back on shore, and called 911, officials said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said at a briefing on Wednesday morning that the beach was expected to reopen at 1 p.m. if no further sightings took place.

Bellone said that Wednesday’s incident is “an indication that what we are looking at is something of a new normal.”

Bellone added that sharks seem to be closer to the shore, which will continue to make interactions between them and humans more frequent.

“Fortunately, we haven’t seen significant injuries, nor do we expect to, but it is something to be aware and conscious of,” Bellone said.

Bellone warned swimmers to stay out of the water when lifeguards are not on duty, to avoid dusk and dawn, not wear shiny jewelry and not go into the water if bleeding.

During the past few weeks, officials have been monitoring beaches via boat, helicopter and drone to account for the uptick in shark incidents off of Nassau and Suffolk county beaches.

The first of the area’s recent attacks came on June 30, when a 37-year-old swimmer was bitten on his right foot near Jones Beach.

Just four days later, Smith Point and Cupsogue beaches were closed after a lifeguard was bitten by a shark during a water rescue training simulation.

Zachari Gallo, a Sayville High School special education teacher, was training with other lifeguards when he was pretending to be a drowning victim in the water. Suddenly he felt the shark’s tail and knew he needed to get to shore, according to an interview with New York ABC station WABC.

Fortunately, after a bite to the chest and hand, Gallo only needed two stitches and antibiotics, Suffolk County officials said.

Less than a week later, another lifeguard endured a shark bite off of Ocean Beach on Fire Island.

The lifeguard was only about 150 to 200 yards off the shore, treading water, when they were bitten around the ankle and received minor injuries, the chief lifeguard of the Ocean Beach District said.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman held a press conference on Sunday, saying, “It is relatively safe to go in the water, but you have to take precautions.”

“If you’re gonna go in the ocean, it’s good to go with a partner. Always go on a protected beach where there are lifeguards, always stay together and be conscious of your surroundings,” he said, even wading into the water himself. “If you do those things, you will be safe.”

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